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Legislative Year Productive For Some, Slow For Others

DECEMBER 13, 2001
Copyright © 2001
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - The heads of the legislative bodies are pleased with the first-year labor of the Fourteenth Legislative Assembly, while on the other hand, the minority legislators, for diverse reasons, opine that it was a non-productive year.

Senate President Antonio Fas Alzamora considers that he has met his self-imposed expectations, although he admitted that there is always space for improvement.

Among the legislations that he imposed, he said he aided in the revision of the Civil Code and the Penal Code, as well as constituted the Special Committee for Family Public Policy Reform, and passed administration bills that made the Puerto Rican Project for the 21st Century viable.

In the Senate, 3,246 bills were filed this year. Of that total, 271 were administrative bills. In all, 2,063 bills were approved, according to reports from the secretary.

For his part, House Speaker Carlos Vizcarrondo said the number of measures of legislative initiative are "significant" and the package of economic development bills filed by Gov. Sila Calderon will generate a greater investment in the economy.

"It was one of the most important aspects of the first and second session that were complemented with bills of legislative initiative," he said.

In the House, 6,765 bills were filed, of which 2,841 were approved. Though the number of administrative bills was not given, 292 were approved.

Independent Rep. Jorge de Castro Font, for his part, described this year's legislation as "poor in many areas such as youth, the elderly, crime, and fighting crime." He described the present Legislature as one of "improvisation."

Meanwhile, Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Sen. Fernando Martin said legislative labor, from his view, was dominated much more than in the past by small fights on pork barrels, which is the allocation of funds of the legislators for their districts, and he lamented the control to approve or reject these allocations that the executive has over the legislative.

PIP Rep. Victor Garcia San Inocencio, for his part, said the Legislature's biggest deception was in the area of economic development where marriages of working couples subsidize the tax exemptions program.

House New Progressive Party spokesman Anibal Vega Borges said though the year started extremely slow, he considers that there are many legislators who acquired experience, some faster than others.

However, he said he proposes to submit to the House speaker a list of legislative bills of his delegation that have not been approved to inquire about the situation.

In the Senate, his counterpart, Kenneth McClintock, referred to the legislative year as one with many good intentions and many improvisations, as well as too many extraordinary sessions to attend to matter that could have waited for the start of the next ordinary session.

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